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How Telemedicine Is Becoming a Savior in Syrian Refugee Crisis
May 13, 2016

How Telemedicine Is Becoming a Savior in Syrian Refugee Crisis

How doctors are using telemedicine to help relieve the desperate situation in war-torn Syria.

The Many Uses of Telemedicine

Telemedicine is “essential for treating Syrian refugees who don't have access to specialist care, let alone the quality, regular follow-ups," Rogy Masri, MD, a doctor stationed at a refugee camp in Northern Lebanon, told Fast Company last month.
 
Masri said he uses telemedicine for consultation with medical specialists when he sees patients with problems he cannot diagnose. He recalled one case where a refugee walked into his clinic with a skin infection he couldn’t diagnose, but with the help of a specialist he was able to figure out the condition.
 
Other uses for telemedicine in Syria include psychiatry, continuity of care for patients who must change facilities due to violence, continuous care where there is a shortage of doctors, and staffing particularly dangerous zones where no doctor is safe to tread.
 
Medical facilities in Syria’s rebel-controlled Aleppo use telemedicine to staff the intensive care unit, for instance. A team of doctors from across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia work in shifts to monitor Syrian patients in real-time using three webcams connected to the intensive care unit (ICU). Those supervising the ICU in person move the cameras so remote staff can check the monitors, ventilators and patients themselves.
 
Of course, all this requires good Internet connectivity, Patrick Gordon, chair of the WGET Forum at the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), told Computer Weekly.
 
This is particularly the case when it comes to videoconferencing, a key technology that healthcare workers have been leveraging in Syria.
 
“Reliable network connectivity is a huge issue for war-torn areas,” real-time communications network provider Agora.io quoted founder Tony Zhao in a blog post.
 
Even unreliable connectivity is better than no connectivity, however. For those helping refugees in Syria, telemedicine has been welcomed help. It has enabled medical facilities in war-ravaged areas to keep functioning despite a lack of qualified medical personnel. It also has brought specialist support and improved healthcare operations that would not be possible otherwise.

 
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